Sunday, May 19, 2013

Galaha: A Day's Sightseeing.

A spectacular view of Galaha from top of a mountain in Loolkandura Tea Estate.

Galaha is a small town located among the hills of Sri Lanka's Central Province. It is about 30 kilometers from Kandy, and an ideal location for sightseeing reachable within a couple of hours drive from Kandy.

A view from Galaha Road.

To reach Galaha, you have to pass Galaha Junction which is at Peradeniya, and take the road that runs through the University of Peradeniya towards Mahakanda. This is the Galaha Road. From Mahakanda Galaha Road starts rising up, allowing you to see a fantastic view of surrounding villages and towns like Hindagala and Gampola below. Ambuluwawa peak at Gampola can be clearly seen from Galaha Road, passing Wariyagala.

A fuel filling station on the roadside passing Galaha.

The road to Galaha is not a ‘state-of-the-art’ highway. It is a simple, asphalted road. Galaha road passes the paddy fields of Hindagala and enters the Pinus plantations. Although Pinus plantations are harmful to the natural environment of the Kandyan hills, it gives the area a flavour of a European scenery.

Through the Pinus plantations...

If you do not have homemade snacks with you, they can be bought from small roadside snack huts. Of course the snacks are Undu Vadai, Dhal Vadai, and Coconut Roti with Katta Sambol (a strong chili sauce) which are great hunger-killers.

Loolecondera Tea Estate.

A part of the first 5 acres of tea planted by James Taylor in 1867.

The best destination in this one-day trip is Loolkandura or ‘Loolecondera’ Tea Estate at Hewaheta. Hewaheta is about ten kilometers away from Galaha town. Loolkandura Tea Estate is the first ever tea plantation of Sri Lanka which was inaugurated by James Taylor, a British immigrant, in 1865. He spelled the local name Loolkandura as ‘Loolecondera’, and that name is still being used on the name boards of this Tea Estate. This is the birthplace of ‘Pure Ceylon Tea’ which is a tagline that has won international fame. There is a big history in Loolecondera Estate. It still preserves the ruins of the historical log cabin where James Taylor lived and hand-produced the first load of Pure Ceylon Tea.

The one-and-half century old fireplace of James Taylor's log cabin.

The small kovil in front of the entrance of Loolecondera Estate and the small stream that flows beside are a cooling sight. The stream is full of rocks, and clean, cool water flows through them making a pleasing sound. It’s a good place to have refreshments, a beer, and a bath.

Children having fun in the stream...